Longterm hospital patients or transcontinental Greyhound riders might happily kill time trudging through Robbins’s lectures on every hackneyed social evil from advertising to dogmatism. Everyone else, skip over the pageslong polemics, and enjoy a whimsical tall tale of a potsmoking, teenagershagging CIA agent who travels the globe in hopes of shaking a South American shaman’s curse.
A trip up the Amazon to repatriate his grandmother’s parrot finds the Zenmeditating spymaster Switters peacepiping with a jungledwelling guru who, in exchange for a drugtripcumglimpseofdivine truth, exacts a price: Switters's feet must never again touch the ground, lest he be struck instantly dead. Any doubt in the curse’s authenticity bites the dust when his acquaintance, similarly cursed to die upon touching another man’s penis, keels over the moment he gingerly prods, as a test, Switters’s purposefully exposed member. Switters, taking no chances, rolls himself back to the US in a wheelchair, determined not to allow his feet on the ground until the curse is undone. Temporarily distracted from his predicament by lust for his 16yearold stepsister, he solicitously assists with her school paper on the prophecies of the Lady of Fatima and then, through a series of amusing, unbelievable plot twists, ends up in a convent of excommunicated Catholic nuns in the Syrian desert where the Lady’s prophecies are actually kept. Switters now finds himself in requited yet unconsummated love with one of the chaste, and arbitrating the convent's potentially lifethreatening dispute with the Vatican. One way or another, all is resolved—from curse to pedophilic crush to Vatican standoff—when Switters’s feet finally do touch the ground again.
A lot of fun, but less so if an overdeveloped sense of reader-duty won’t let you pass by the plotstopping diatribes that have become Robbins’s habit (Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, 1994, etc.). (Author tour)